4.6% is a Huge Difference, I Presume

Via Appletree: Congress has just defeated an amendment that would provide protection from American torture to 4.6% of the world’s population. Grodo editorializes,

And that’s the kind of day it was. On mostly party-line votes, the House and Senate agreed that the president could hold a person without trial, even an American citizen, simply by declaring that person an enemy combatant, or by declaring that the person has aided terrorists in some way. The House and Senate agreed to allow the use of torture, including sexual torture, against these “enemy combatants.”

Actually, the party-line vote wasn’t about “could hold a person without trial” but about “even an American citizen.” Apparently, throwing me in jail without probable cause and without trial is accepted by both sides of the political divide in the US. Says the LA Times,

The new bill, if passed, would further entrench presidential power. At the very least, it would encourage the Supreme Court to draw an invidious distinction between citizens and legal residents. There are tens of millions of legal immigrants living among us, and the bill encourages the justices to uphold mass detentions without the semblance of judicial review.

But the bill also reinforces the presidential claims, made in the Padilla case, that the commander in chief has the right to designate a U.S. citizen on American soil as an enemy combatant and subject him to military justice. Congress is poised to authorized this presidential overreaching. Under existing constitutional doctrine, this show of explicit congressional support would be a key factor that the Supreme Court would consider in assessing the limits of presidential authority.

This is no time to play politics with our fundamental freedoms. Even without this massive congressional expansion of the class of enemy combatants, it is by no means clear that the present Supreme Court will protect the Bill of Rights. The Korematsu case — upholding the military detention of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II — has never been explicitly overruled. It will be tough for the high court to condemn this notorious decision, especially if passions are inflamed by another terrorist incident. But congressional support of presidential power will make it much easier to extend the Korematsu decision to future mass seizures.

The Democrats’ amendment to the whole bill, which would only protect American citizens, wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on. When Bush pushes a bill legalizing torture through Congress, offering an amendment exempting 4.6% of the world’s population from that atrocity is the height of obsequity. Senate rules permit 41 Senators to filibuster; there are in fact more than 41 Democrats in the Senate.

A significant contingent of Democrats voted yes on the final bill not because they supported torturing more than 95.4% of the world’s population, but because they were afraid of losing their seats in the coming midterm. Just like in the 2002 votes on Iraq and the Homeland Security Bill, the Democrats confused their own rhetorical ineptitude with political effectiveness.

Just because you’re too timid to slap the phrase “good old-fashioned police work” on posters and air TV ads explaining to voters that Britain’s perfectly capable of curbing terrorism without even a FISA court, let alone warrantless wiretaps, doesn’t mean that doing those things won’t work. It’s time to stop pretending that the solution to terrorism is military and that everyone who opposes fascism is weak on terrorism; doing that will only accelerate the arrival of fascism.

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5 Responses to 4.6% is a Huge Difference, I Presume

  1. opit says:

    Wake up and smell the bacon ! The tyrant has arrived and just been confirmed by his court. bluegalinaredstate@blogspot.com says it well and lays out the criteria for a fascist regime.
    BTW Baghdad Burning has been quiet for quite a while now. Give me a shout if they turn up, please.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    Opit, your link is wrong – it’s http://bluegalinaredstate.blogspot.com rather than an email address.

    Anyway, I must’ve seen the 14 characteristics of fascism a thousand times. Suffice is to say I’m unconvinced that Bush is doing anything that isn’t SOP for the US. Torture? Check. Intimidation of journalists? Check. Installing puppet dictatorships around the world? Check. Bloated military spending? Check. Arbitrary detentions? Check. War profiteering? Check. Actually, I’m fairly certain Bush is doing less of these than any President of the second half of the 20th century except Clinton.

  3. [...] Apparently, throwing me in jail without probable cause and without trial is accepted by both sides of the political divide in the US. 4.6% is a Huge Difference, I Presume « Abstract Nonsense   [...]

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